WhatsApp Wants To Monetize Customer Service With New Business App
The Facebook-owned platform is debuting an enterprise solution to help big businesses manage one-to-one customer communications.
WhatsApp has just announced plans to launch WhatsApp Business to help companies manage customer service. The new offering will unlock a new source of revenue for the company, which was acquired by Facebook for $19 billion in 2014.
Per Fox Business, WhatsApp Business will offer a free standalone app for small-to-medium sized businesses and an enterprise solution for larger enterprises designed “to provide customers with useful notifications like flight times, delivery confirmations, and other updates,” the company stated in its official blog announcement.
WhatsApp business will offer verified profiles that include information such as a business’s address, phone number, website link, a brief description and hours of operation to help users more easily differentiate between real accounts and fakes. There is also talk about features to more easily manage communications, like away messages (AIM, anyone?), when businesses are unavailable to respond.
Users will have the choice whether or not to “opt in” to be contacted by businesses. While it won’t be possible to delete any messages that are part of a conversation with a verified business account, you can block an account at any time in the menu settings. Additionally, the company stated that all messages between customers and businesses will be “end-to-end encrypted,” protecting the information from being leaked to third parties.
So when can we expect these paid features to roll out and what will be the exact price tag? Well, we’ll have to wait and find out. A pilot program is still currently underway in parts of South America, Europe and Asia.
Businesses are investing in messaging services with good reason. Smartphones and social media have raised the bar for customer service, as consumers have grown accustomed to receiving instant and immediate troubleshooting and reconciliation from companies. Twitter emerged as a go-to place for these types of correspondence, but it’s not entirely ideal. Tweet exchanges are public (at least until transitioned to DM) and Twitter has been slow to build out features specific to this use case.
Another question that will remain on the table centers on whether WhatsApp will incorporate a similar ad strategy to Facebook Messenger, that is, placing ads in between users’ conversations. For now, the company wants to keep the focus on creating more seamless interactions with users and businesses.
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